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Japan: Stippy | A fresh look at Japan, by gaijins for gaijins!

The Definitive Guide to Breakfast in Tokyo

Lauderdale's Souffle - it is a must - nothing else like it in Tokyo
Lauderdale’s Souffle – it is a must – nothing else like it in Tokyo
Despite being a city that prides itself in being a gourmand’s heaven, for some reason Tokyo is quite an underperformer when it comes to breakfast options. Now don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for a quick and healthy bite on your way to work for less than 500 yen then there are a plentitude of options. I have certainly been known to stop by Dotour or even the odd Kissaten (喫茶店, old school Japanese coffee house) but how many places can you tell me that offer a decent sit-down breakfast that you would feel comfortable taking your beloved girlfriend, better-half or even the kids?

My wife and I love any excuse to get out of the house early, and on a special occasion we will often eat out for breakfast. If you’ve ever tried to Google “Tokyo breakfast” or “Tokyo brunch” then you will sympathize with my plight. Continue reading

The Fate of the 1 Yen Coin – When will it lose its lustre in Japan?

1 Yen Coin
1 Yen Coin – What is its fate?
Next time you are having lunch with your Japanese colleagues, and have one of those awkward moments where no-one has a good topic to tide over until the food arrives, try asking them their thoughts on the 1 yen coin. Half of them will respond that they never really gave it any thought (i.e. they could never think of not having it), and the other half will tell you that “you can’t just not make the one yen coin”. Dig a little deeper, and ask them why? It is here where you find deeply ingrained, and somewhat unfounded Nihonjin-ness come out – Japan is still mero-mero in love with their yen, and bringing up its abolishment brings gains us a little more insight into just how close the Japanese individuals are in their way of thinking when it comes to matters close to home (read this anecdote if you read Japanese, it expresses the sentiment of many people in Japan towards the 1 yen coin).

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JS Group – Do you know them? You should.

Lixil CompaniesPop quiz: Name a Japanese company with a US educated CEO.

Better yet, name one with a CEO and a Chairman who both have MBAs from different, well respected US Universities? Let’s narrow it down a little further for you with another hint: the company makes a habit of hiring “rejects” from other companies into its management team.

So how many of you are assuming that I’m talking about a little dot com that you’ve never heard of? What if I told you that the company has sales of 1.3 trillion yen and probably made either your toilet or your bath!?

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Getting an iPhone 4S in Japan: SoftBank or au-KDDI… or?

iPhone 4s - SoftBank or auThe iPhone landscape has changed somewhat over the last few days. Finally now we have a choice other than SoftBank if we want to own an iPhone. For some of us the fact that we needed at least 24 months remaning on our visa to sign up for their 2 year contract was the killer. For others it was the rumors of poor network coverage or just the desire to wait until the spec was a little closer to the Android phones. If you haven’t got an iPhone yet, it is easier now. But which provider is the best deal? Softbank or au by KDDI?

The short answer boils down to two key factors. If your decision is purely driven by money, the answer is Softbank. But, if you are a heavy user or you just hate waiting for web pages to pop up then I hate to say it but you should probably be going with au. Below I’ll walk you through some of the other differences and throw in another option to include, and help you come to your own verdict.

The price issue is simple. With au, it costs you an extra 500 yen each month on your “all you can chew data” set. Depending on a the model you choose it might also cost you more to purchase the iPhone itself through au. If you are transferring to au from another carrier and satisfied with the most basic iPhone (16GB) you will end up with Continue reading

Eat more salt! Are you getting enough while in Japan?

Salt - Are you getting enough?
Salt - Are you getting enough?
Who was it that made salt the scapegoat in the worlds rush to explain the cause of high blood-pressure? Sure scientists have proven that cholesterol is bad, but where is the definitive research proving that salt is the culprit? The reality is that we, as a species, have increased the incidence of a plethora of other health worries after we starting playing games with the mineral balance in our salt intake. We – especially those of us on a Japanese diet – should be going out of our way to take more salt and definitely should ignore the MLHW’s advice to keep our salt intake below 9g/day.
Think that sounds a little controversial? Not according to Yoshiaki Murakami (村上譲顕) who has spent his entire adult life researching the health benefits of salt and swears by Continue reading

Daddy-san (part 6): Fun for Kids in Tokyo – Tropical Botanical Gardens

Yumenoshima - Likely the only tropical waterfall in Tokyo
Yumenoshima - Likely the only tropical waterfall in Tokyo
I will freely admit that I was clutching at straws as I tried to excite myself about our plan to visit a botanical garden built on an reclaimed island created by years and years of Tokyo rubbish. But – believe it or not – by the time I got home after sundown, I was really impressed with my trip to Yumenoshima (夢の島). My pocket was a mere 250 yen lighter for the pleasure and my son went to bed with a huge smile on his face. I could highly recommend visiting all of the facilities on Yumenoshima, but particularly the Tropical Botanical Gardens (夢の島熱帯植物館) was fantastic. It smashed my (low) expectations. The gardens are inside a huge hot house they are also perfect for a cold or rainy day when you don’t have anywhere else to go!

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Amazing Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster Documentary “155 days” 「金曜プレステージ・わ・す・れ・な・い 東日本大震災155日の記録 」(aired: 12th August 2011 on Fuji TV)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Documentary - Fuji TV
Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Documentary - Fuji TV
「金曜プレステージ・「わ・す・れ・な・い〜東日本大震災155日の記録〜」」

This incredible documentary is the first of its kind to air in Japan, with professionally commentated and chronologically compiled footage of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that was to follow. It is all in Japanese, but for those of you who cant understand the commentary, just watch it anyway. It is very well put together, giving logical sequencing of the mess which we all witnessed on the news and Youtube in the weeks after the event. Watch it, and witness the gut wrenching footage and interviews with people who lost their families and livelihood (even if you dont understand the language with your head, your heart understands the story being told). Much of the footage has previously never been shown before, and has been painstakingly sewn together into this shocking story, that helps with a deeper understanding of what really happened on that tragic day, March 11th 2011.

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Daddy-san (part 5): Car Safety – the state of child seat use in Japan

Daddy-san Series - Childseat usage in JapanIn part three of this series, I wrote a bit about travelling with a baby in Japan on planes. The big form of transport that I didn’t mention was cars. I’d never felt the need for owning a car in Japan until I had a baby but recently I’ve been starting to think that it would be a nice addition to the family. Besides the fact that it would make bringing nappies home from the local supermarket a lot easier, it would make domestic travel just that little bit smoother. We’ve been able to get around a reasonable amount with a combination of rent-a-cars and taxis when we haven’t been able to use trains (or boats or planes), but the reality is that it is just not as safe or convenient as having your own car with a fitted baby seat. Continue reading

Interview with Rieko Saigo (西郷理恵子): We got professional advice on your sexless marriage

Sexless Japan Interview - Rieko Saigo
Sexless? We interviewed a professional Japanese relationship consultant for some ideas on what could be the cause
At the beginning we thought it was just us. But as the number of comments grew on our “Sexless Japan” article we started to realise that not having regular sex – compared with how things were before marriage at least – seems to be a common issue for the I’m Married to a Japanese crowd in our readership. Could that really be the case? While we’re no match for Mino Monta, we decided to get to the bottom of things and track down a specialist on couples, sex, and the general state of sexlessness in Japan.

Marital advisors, Couple consultants, pre-marital counsellors, and the like are extremely rare in Japan. Sex specialists/therapists are even Continue reading

Sexless article followup: we need your help to interview a Japanese “sexless counselor”

Sexless Japan
We need your help - what do you need to know to help your sexless marriage?
Although it seems to be sex that sells in the  rest of the world, unfortunately in the jaded world of gaijin’s married to Japanese it is sexlessness that sells.  To commemorate the fact that our most popular article on stippy.com the truth behind “Sexless Japan” has received a whopping 500+ comments and more traffic than any other article we have written, we’ve decided to research for a follow-up article – and we need your help to make it an insightful one!

The continued traffic that we get to that article is proof alone that there is a significantly large % of the married gaijin community that are suffering from sexless marriages.  Worse yet, there are no obvious places to go.  It isn’t the norm for Japanese couples to get counseling and there isn’t a harder topic to bring up with your loved one than a debate about who should be putting out more and why.  If you haven’t read through the entire thread then we really strongly recommend taking the time out to see the comments, questions and advice that our readers have left on this topic.  Even if you’re not married yet.  Maybe even more so if you’re not married!!

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A fresh look at Japan, by gaijins for gaijins!